I have been battling (with myself!) for some time to collate my thoughts, feelings & passions into an easy to communicate medium and I am hoping that this blog captures that in the first instance.
I would greatly appreciate any and all feedback, especially from those who have their own story or thoughts, positive and developmental, to tell around self awareness and/or vulnerability.
The above idea to help ‘SGEW’ the current fear-based lens of the world has been evolving, much of it unbeknown to me, over the past 5 years since I first had the opportunity to lead a people agenda within my mainly local UK work organisation.
Where has this SGEW model idea come from?
- Ever since entering the world of employment at age 21 I had never reflected on, in a big way, my experiences growing up. Mainly purposeless, all about making money and ‘getting by’ with a focus on material items and no bigger ambition or picture in mind, I bobbed along with minimal professional development support being offered to help me grow (and me not asking as I did not feel that was the done thing led by fear)
- The above summarises my first 15 years life’s work journey, however I had my first awakening, aged 36, when I got tired of just making money with limited work purpose, meaning or bigger impact on the world, thus I looked to leave my employer. I really like my employer and I enjoy sales, but something was missing.
- To stay I was offered the chance to make a difference where I deemed fit which was around the people agenda. Coming from a distinctly non-HR angle (focussing on international sales & product management) and with no context or contacts in HR, I started on a personal development journey at this time leading to CIPD certifications in Learning & Development (L&D), Organisational Design & Development (OD) & finally becoming a chartered member of the CIPD in Mar 2017 whilst implementing the company’s first in-house L&D programme in the UK. This felt meaningful and started me on a personal development journey and desire to help others grow that has not abated since
- My personal development journey reached a new high/inflection point when I attended the WorldBlu The Power Question workshop in April 2017. I still have too much to thank Perry Timms https://twitter.com/PerryTimms for after our chance meeting at Liverpool Premier Inn a few years ago. This workshop was life-changing for me personally. Here I truly understood who I was, what fears were holding me backand what potential impact I could make on the world, not just for me personally or for my work organisation
- This sent me and I continue to be, on a frenetic learning journey where my personal network has expanded from 90% employer, inward looking focussed to 70% external / 30% internal, helping offer me a much wider, worldly view of potential. This is a good thing not only for me personally but for my employer as new contacts, ideas and views are shared in all directions. The advent of technology in supporting that network & tribe-building action has been game-changing. I regularly reference that 70%+ of my CPD or learning comes is mainly Twitter + some from LinkedIn
- Over the past months, as this learning & increased self-awareness has evolved, I have truly started to re-sense who I am, what I truly believe in and what difference I want to make which has led me back to those earlier, formative years of self. Between ages 12 and 13 I was bullied (physically & mentally), suppressing emotions to some extent going through my 20s and early 30s (in hindsight) and had a mini meltdown, mental health issue 18 months ago, all aspects of my life that were hidden or ignored until recently- why? Fear of being judged. Feeling shame. Not fitting in.
- To that end, my personal life’s journey, if I apply my newly proposed SGEW model was Employment –> Personal development –> World –> Self
- My own life’s journey to date evidences that the very thing that I propose is the no 1 most essential focus area of self, was the last thing that I have previously and I am now better understanding. I do not think that is uncommon and for men especially with decades and millennia of men having “to be the strong one,” “don’t show emotions” or be told “boys don’t cry” has developed us to put anything even remotely relating to emotions into a box. I always think of https://twitter.com/PhilWillcox when reflecting on emotion and the good work that he does
- By pure coincidence as this blog was written as a draft before this weeks first ever #SelfCareWeekly took place on Twitter last Tuesday, I had rarely focussed on #selfcare. Ensuring that I was making time to be still, to think to reflect, just to be. Following this first chat, it appears to me that self-care is a major contributor to improving self-awareness and vulnerability
A huge inspiration to me getting to the stage where I felt comfortable to write this blog has been the reading of @LewisHowes book ‘The Mask of Masculinity’ and a set of recent coaching sessions with the amazing https://twitter.com/kelly_swingler. This book is an absolute must read and for anyone that may be interested in understanding themselves and what holds them back, better. I include my 6in6club review which contains a review of this book:
My proposal is to use the SGEW model in this blog is a complete U-turn on the societal ‘habit’ of invulnerability, especially at the top of work organisations. We all make a choice whether to bring our true, imperfect self to life, or whether we wear masks to portray the image of perfection. There is no middle ground for me.
A world that is focussed on truly understanding ourselves, deeply and intimately including fears, with a focus on personal development has to lead to better business outcomes through purposeful, empowering work and has to lead towards a more inclusive, meaningful world of opportunity for all. This is not pie in the sky thinking (although deliberately over simplified)…I just know that it is not.
To get there, I feel that a shift towards more vulnerability led, highly self-aware people leadership where everybody has a voice, innovation & creativity are widespread and where leaders become truly……leaders….. through motivation, empowerment, coaching & listening.
My ‘lost decade’ and a half bouncing around the world of work with no purpose or real meaning is something that I want to help others avoid and that is where increased vulnerability & self-awareness can be helpful, as I have evidenced over the past 5 years:
- With self-awareness & vulnerability being fundamental pillars to being the very best version if our self, now is the time to help all of those in our families, friendship groups, sports clubs, work organizations, societal groups etc to become more self-aware and to improve the levels of vulnerability, especially in men but also in all human beings. Let’s start having those difficult conversations that we avoid. Let’s stop being afraid.
- It is well evidenced that non-diverse groups can lead to groupthink, suppressed innovation and reduced creativity for problem solving. Nilofer Merchant https://twitter.com/nilofer in a recent talk referenced that 61% of ideas are lost due to the perceived need for safety or to ‘fit in,’ trumping the confidence to speak up – I was one of those 61% until 5 years ago
- The potential for inclusiveness and growth for each and every human being is there, it requires a societal OS reboot of what it means to be human, shifting from winning at all costs & extrinsic focus to collaborative growth for all focussing on intrinsic factors. Money and material items are not evil, but they must be the output (ends) of meaningful work and not the means
- Is this unrealistic? I say no. But it will take a range of WorldBlu democratic principles to be lived and breathed, at all levels of self, employment and the world, to make this happen such as accountability, transparency, choice, decentralisation & individual & collective, as a minimum – http://www.worldblu.com/
- My personal purpose is to help humanity live a life of purpose, free from fear and with the opportunity to learn every day. Is it bold, yes. Do I believe in it yes. Will people try and take me down or ridicule me for it, yes. Will I keep striving forward anyway, yes.
I really hope that this blog is of interest/helpful to some people and I am happy to expand on my personal journey and/or thoughts should anyone be interested.
I am acutely aware that I come from a position of white privilege in my thinking, however a personal aim of mine by sharing this blog is to hopefully evidence vulnerability and I hope inspire some others to action.
I have also set up a new podcast focussed on helping others share their stories/journeys of self awareness and/or vulnerability:
For anyone that may be interested, the next #SelfCareWeekly will take place on Tues 1st May at 1900pm GMT / 7pm GMT on Twitter. (a separate blog to follow)